Enable MQA Core Decoder for iFi NEO iDSD?


I am using Roon to send music to my iFi NEO iDSD DAC/amp, which supports full decoding of MQA files.

I am not clear if I need to ‘enable MQA core decoder’ in device setup in Roon or leave it disabled?

Any advice, please?

If your iFi NEO iDSD DAC/amp is able to fully decode MQA set it as Decoder & renederer if it’s not already configured.

Have a look at this YouTube video: - MQA Decoder setup - TIDAL / Roon / Audirvana (NEO iDSD) - YouTube

(Master Quality Authenticated) is supported through the USB with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip. This is from the ifi Audio website.

Thanks for that. I have set it to ‘Decoder and renderer’ in this section.

What I am not clear about is the option to enable (or not) MQA core decoder in the advanced settings for the device, as shown in the screenshot.

I don’t have MQA capability so have no expeience of this at the moment. This is taken from the Roon Knowledge Base: -

Device Setup

This is the Device Setup screen. It is split into two categories, general and advanced. If your device has been automatically identified by Roon, all of the correct settings should be applied automatically without any extra configuration by the user needed. You can always return the settings to their default state by clicking Restore Defaults. Nothing is saved until you click Save Settings so feel free to exit the dialog if you get things into a confusing state and want to undo your changes.

Hope this helps.

Thanks again.

I can run the device as a WASAPI or ASIO device. Roon detects it automatically when WASAPI is selected & sets ‘Decoder and renderer’ automatically. It does not detect it when ASIO is selected, so I have to manually select ‘Decoder and renderer’ in this case.

In both cases ‘MQA decoder’ is automatically enabled in the advanced settings. I assume that this means that Roon is doing the decoding instead of the DAC. According to Roon, some DACS may not work correctly if this is enabled:

" If I enable MQA decoding in Roon, will my MQA DAC/renderer still do the rest of the MQA decoding?

In the majority of cases, yes. There are a few DACs that do not yet recognize decoded MQA streams. We are working with MQA to chase these down and encouraging vendors to fix any products that do not implement this important aspect of MQA support."

Further info here:

Roon x MQA (roonlabs.com)

I’ll see what iFi think about it…

I have MQA in the advanced settings off. On top of the renderer and decoder.

Thanks Dirk.

I have tried both options (enabled/disabled): both seem to work okay, I don’t think I can notice any difference, but I’m curious to know the relative merits, if any.

I think I read that extended MQA should be on when you use DSP.

Ah, you may be right about that. From the previously provided link:

"## Can I use DSP with MQA content in Roon?

Yes. Roon is the only music player that seamlessly integrates DSP with MQA content, while preserving your MQA DAC’s ability to fully render the post-processed stream.

I have an MQA DAC, how does DSP work in Roon?

First, Roon will decode the MQA file or stream it to an MQA Core stream. This produces a PCM audio stream at 88.2kHz or 96kHz which contains MQA signalling information that your DAC needs to render the MQA signal properly.
Then Roon preserves the signalling information (setting it aside for safekeeping), applies DSP to the audio portion, and then restores the signalling information. This re-embeds it into the stream so that your DAC can complete the rendering process."

I don’t generally apply DSP, so I guess I can keep it disabled.

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I turned it off too, but I’ll do a little more testing. :wink:

Just received a reply from iFi:

“We recommend testing with both (enabled ‘MQA decoder’ / not enabled) and assessing which gives the best playback performance.”

That was a good tactical answer. :smiley:

Is the ifi Neo iDSD acting as a Room endpoint via Wifi?

No. It does not have wifi.